The following letter (written by Danya Jacobs and approved unanimously by the AJDS executive) was sent on behalf of the organisation to members of the ALP on Friday, 24 July 2015, prior to the Fringe Conference’s Zionist session and the APAN and AJDS panel session, which pertained to this crucial motion.
Dear elected member,
We write to urge you to vote in favour of the motion to recognise Palestinian statehood, condemn the settlements, end the occupation and find a just solution for refugees at the Labor Party National Conference this weekend. Our organisation has represented progressive voices within the Jewish community for more than 30 years, and we assure you that there is strong support for the recognition of Palestine, as well as firm opposition to the ongoing occupation and the settlements, within the Australian Jewish community.
Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to end the conflict have, in recent years, comprehensively failed. Peace and security has thus far never been possible, and instead the failure of leadership on both sides has entrenched ever-worsening cycles of violence and hopelessness amongst both peoples. The recent re-election of the hard-right, nationalist government of Prime Minister Netanyahu has brought clear finality to the negotiation process – Netanyahu has committed to preventing the establishment of a Palestinian State under his government. There is simply no opportunity to re-establish any meaningful dialogue against such a backdrop.
While commentators and lobbyists on both sides seek to apportion blame to either Palestinians or Israelis for the failure of the negotiation process at various points in history, in one sense such an argument is irrelevant and distracts from the task of finding a path forward to end the conflict. It does not matter whose fault it was. The fact is, the negotiations have now plainly, starkly, and finally failed. The international community must take steps that respond to this new paradigm and provide leadership to shift the conflict beyond the status quo.
The peaceful method to resolve a dispute once negotiations have failed is according to law, in a respected forum and with an independent arbitrator. That time is now well overdue for Israel and Palestine. Rather than reverting to bloodshed, the international community should encourage both parties to abide by international law and resolve the dispute peacefully via mechanisms made available through the United Nations and the international courts. To do so, recognition of Palestine’s statehood and ending settlement expansion is crucial. Palestine has a police force, legal code, court system, elected government, tax department, and its borders are (necessarily) equally as defined as Israel’s. Palestine is already a de-facto state, which warrants recognition from the international community. The settlements are an affront to international law and with each expansion the potential for a peaceful resolution slips further away.
Palestinian leaders have chosen to embark on a peaceful path toward achieving self-determination and sovereignty via efforts at diplomacy, rather than escalating armed conflict. Such actions should be welcomed by the international community and rewarded. If such efforts fail, the message sent to Palestinians is instead that peaceful attempts at resolving the conflict are pointless. It further entrenches hopelessness and with it, the prospects of violence.
For these reasons, we urge you to support the motion.
Finally, we understand that some sections within the Zionist lobby seek to portray the Jewish community, and Jewish voters, as homogenous and uncritical in our support for Israel, regardless of its actions. It is often suggested that somehow this must equate to opposing recognition of Palestinian statehood or ambivalence toward the settlements. However, this is simply not an accurate reflection of our diverse community, and fails completely to represent the strong current of progressive voices within Australian Jewry. We write to assure you of broad support for this new ALP policy from within the Australian Jewish community.
On behalf of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS),
The Executive Committee